Hi. New here? Click to learn about us

Power of Recognition: The Rewards That Linger Indefinitely

By Cherri Gann

As children, gold stars adorn our school papers while the refrigerator door, for a few years anyway, does double-duty as a gallery for our "masterpieces." As we move through life picking up recognition for everything from perfect attendance and memorizing Bible verses to extracurricular participation and finally, our diplomas, these elements of reward serve as markers for the chapters in our lives, even as pillars of our accomplishments. On a rational level, we know they are just "things," but for us as recipients, these items are much more as they evoke both memories and emotions.

A few such items made a recent reappearance for me. The first: a small trophy from the first summer I played softball as a young teen. A certified non-athlete, I played softball only because my best friend at the time begged me. I never dreamed it would be any fun, but our team had a wonderful coach who truly wanted all the girls to be part of the team. Soon I even looked forward to practicing in the sweltering West Texas heat. And when my parents and my grandparents cheered me on from the stands as I caught a fly-ball to make the third out in the bottom of the last inning where we were leading by just one run-well, that was it. I loved it, and I continued to play for the next four summers.

The second item: on the night of my high school graduation, all the graduates were given a small leatherette wallet-like holder containing a credit-card sized copy of our diploma and a die-struck commemorative coin with an artist's rendering of the school mascot. The wallet and the diploma card had the school name and graduation year on the front and the name and logo of the local insurance agent, who provided them for us, on the back. As I close in on the second decade since that night, finding the item brought back bittersweet reminiscences of the sadness and excitement of that time, and a reflection of how far I've come. (Incidentally, I still carry my auto insurance, and now my homeowner's policy, with that same insurance agent.)

The final is a business card holder given to me by a faculty adviser in my last semester of college. Made of soft leather and embossed with an inspirational phrase, it's both aesthetically and intrinsically beautiful. Like him, I re-entered college as an adult, at a time when most of my friends were becoming well established in their careers. He related to the difficulties of juggling the responsibilities of adulthood while navigating the challenges of attending college, and gave these gifts to all his adult students. Knowing someone else understood somehow made it easier to endure. I hope all my former adult-classmates still have their gift, and remember this professor as fondly as I do.

Recognition pieces serve a variety of functions. If someone serves beyond our expectation, we feel compelled to acknowledge the act. As medical patients or legal clients, they comfort us that the professional we've hired has been properly trained. Hanging and displaying them gives us pride and credibility. Even the most secure among us feels a twinge of pride when we receive and display something given to us as a symbol of our effort.

COPYRIGHT © 2005 PPB. All rights reserved.
Cherri Gann is an associate editor for PPB.

Search our Selection of Promotional Products - click here!